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Hall County Fire christens new boat
Marine Rescue 1 answers 1st call Wednesday
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Mark McKinnon, the public affairs officer for the Georgia Department of National Resources, speaks during the Summer of Safety media day at Laurel Park on Thursday. - photo by Erin O. Smith

It didn’t take too long for the Hall County’s Marine Rescue 1 to speed off into action Wednesday.

“I think y’all had been out there about an hour or two hours at the most and they already had their first call,” Hall County Fire Chief Jeff Hood said.

Hall County Administrator Randy Knighton and Commissioner Billy Powell poured champagne on the bow of the new 23-foot rescue boat Thursday at Laurel Park. The boat, a $106,000 purchase which arrived Wednesday, will be in commission for Memorial Day weekend.

“We’re probably about as excited about them having the boat as they are because they help so much on the lake,” said Georgia Department of Natural Resources public information officer Mark McKinnon.

Capt. Kris Boggs said shifts working Wednesday, Thursday and Friday will train on the new boat to prepare for the busiest time of the year.

Given that the boat’s predecessor, a converted Yamaha skiboat from 2005, survived a decade of brutal law enforcement use, Boggs said he and the department are greatly excited for the new arrival.

“We can be the most proficient ... but without the right tools and equipment, we can only go so far,” Boggs said.

The marine rescue team over the past decade, Boggs said, has taken steps from the early vessels to reach the new vessel today.

“Over the years, we’ve figured out what works and what doesn’t,” Boggs said.

The boat includes a 64-inch bow-door clearance, which would allow the rescue team to pull up to the beach or a section of the lake to pull someone aboard.

Boggs said the department is looking at tweaking the bow and pulling the dive ladder out of the way.

“We can almost fit a whole stretcher right here,” Boggs said.

Firefighter/paramedic William Flesher scrolled through the options on the navigation system onboard, which can be split into four different views. With one tap of the screen, Flesher switches between sidescan and 3-D views of the area around and under the boat.

“I’m really thankful we have it,” Flesher said.